The enormous cluster of reporters surrounding Mark Penn dispelled any question as to whether last night’s debate was all about Hillary Clinton. It was.
With four Clinton spinners on the spin room floor (Penn, media consultant Mandy Grunwald, and spokesmen Jay Carson and Phil Singer) the Clinton campaign was clearly imbued with what Barack Obama might call “the fierce urgency of now.”
Here’s what Penn was saying, essentially continuing Clinton’s assault on her opponents’ change credentials.
“I think you saw some very good examples between talk and action in the debate,” Penn said, calling the debate “a fundamental eye opener.”
“They go around town saying change, change, change,” said Penn at another point. “Well reality check, they have not brought about the change they like to talk about.”
Instead, he said, Obama had showed himself to be weak, something the voters of Iowa hadn’t been told by the press. Penn made sure the voters of New Hampshire wouldn’t suffer from the same ignorance.
“They didn’t know that Senator Obama had for example talked that he would vote against the Patriot Act and then vote for the Patriot Act,” he said. “They didn’t know the various positions he’s taken on health care. They didn’t know that Senator Edwards’ greatest claim to accomplishment in the Senate didn’t even pass. I think some facts are beginning to come out on both sides of the equation.”
When asked about the harsher tone Clinton used when she argued that she was the true change agent, Penn said, “I also think she had some really great moments when she was asked about likeability.”
Various news reports have suggested that the Clintons are not at all pleased with Penn after the shabby Iowa result. When asked about those reports questioning his job security, Penn seemed a little nervous.
“All sorts of things appear in the paper,” he said. “They appeared in the paper in 1996 as well. And you know I helped with President Bush get into a successful second term.”